An almost identical photo taken with my camera.
The only thing that has moved is Espen.
When it became apparent that 1) We were going to England this year, and 2) Maddy lives a mere 20 minutes from where we were staying (Thank you, Pat and uncle David!), I knew that a meeting would be in order. And fortunately Maddy agreed! So we agreed on a place and a time
On our way into Costa Coffee in the high street in Ruislip, I noticed a teenage girl and a young boy that just looked familiar. Then I realized that they were Maddy's brother and sister, Alex and Oli and I felt like I had just had a celebrity sighting! I loudly hissed to Nick who they were, and think I seriously skeeved Oli out. Who was this random woman grinning at them in the street?
Then we headed into Costa Coffee (No, Maddy, we don't drink coffee either:) ) and the first person I saw was Maddy.
My first impulse was to give her a big hug, but then I think shyness got the better of both of us. I was suddenly acutely aware of being an old married lady with a husband and a baby, hanging out with a teenager. But fortunately we had Espen with us, who always acts as a great social ice breaker and go-to topic of conversation, so we had something to talk about while we bought our lunch and got settled around a table. Then Nick laughed at us for both being a bit on the quiet side, and we were off. Eventually Espen noticed that the little boy at the next table had a little toy Thomas train, and his desperate pleas of "Ohmas! Ohmas!" became too much to bear, so we took him to the park to play.
Once there we kind of split into boys and girls so Maddy and I got a chance to chat while Nick played with Espen. Espen's big passion right now is walking, so we all lapped the entire park a few times. In true Hollywood homes-of-the-stars fashion, Maddy pointed out the roof of her house through the trees, and I peered intently like any fan girl should.
Before very long it just felt like spending time with a good friend. It's a bit weird meeting someone for the first time while both knowing so much about each other, but really, that just gave us a chance to breeze past the initial "getting to know you" stuff and just move on to chatting as friends.
I especially enjoyed getting to see a bit of Ruislip (I like to think of it as rice-lip), so when I read Maddy's blog I can imagine her in her proper environment. And there were ducklings, which was, of course, instantly endearing.
Maddy herself was more or less just as I imagined her to be. Except, goodness! If you think her hair is long and pretty in photos, you should see it in person. Wowee zowee! I loved Maddy's style in person too: pretty and feminine, but always with a little edge and individuality.
She is very sweet, fun to talk to, considerate and (like me) perhaps a little shy at first. While it didn't really come out too much while taking a 1-year old to the park, I'm pretty confident that there is a Wild One hiding inside there too.
And yes-yes-yes, Maddy, come and visit! Our guest room is always open for you :)